Life, loss, music
By Julia Figueras ~ Posted Sat, 08/01/2009 - 1:44pm
She has called me twice, declining to leave a name or number. She doesn't like choral music. That, she says, is too much like church. If I want listeners, I should be playing waltzes, marches, and peppy overtures. I say that doesn't fully represent life, or our listeners.
It was a tough week in our house. Our beloved Maggiecat, a busy cat who always made her presence known, began to fail on Monday. By Wednesday, it was clear what we had to do. By Friday, she was gone. And in the midst of our sadness, my friend Jean dropped me a line:
I wanted you to know how comforting, inspiring and calming your music was to me and my Mom this week. I had your program on and WXXI all the time in her room... they told us that hearing is the last sense to go. She died peacefully Thursday after a very long life. She was a classical pianist and I know that what you were playing was perfect. And your voice is also so calming it truly eased a difficult situation. You never know who you are reaching out there so I just wanted you to know you make a difference in more ways than you know...
Jean's loss, and ours, led me to think about loss, life, and music. We busily buzz through our days, assuming that our world is the norm. But as we shop at Wegmans or do our jobs, someone else's world is very different. As Peter, the girls, and I sat at the vet with Maggiecat, someone was having a beer on the beach at Marge's. As Jean sat with her mother, I was doing my job. This is a lesson I've learned over and over in my many years in radio: The world is much larger than my studio. There was the caller who phoned me when Pan Am Flight 107 blew up over Lockerbee; her best friend was on the plane. Then there was the listener who called in during a jazz shift, just after watching her mother die at the hospital. When she climbed into her car, I was playing Amazing Grace by Hubert Laws, and it got her home safely. She wanted a copy for her mother's funeral.
We can't walk through life in sorrow, but we must always have a corner of conscious compassion. That angry customer ahead of me may have just spent a sleepless night nursing a sick child or a dying kitty. When I program music, I think of each show as a sine wave, undulating up and down, slow and fast, brash and contemplative. And I hope that, somehow, I can touch each listener's needs in some small way. And while a peppy waltz will show up in every show, there will always be a moment of contemplation, too. That's life, and that's my job.